I didn’t watch the Ben Cousins Drug Story. It is too close to home. Four months ago our family was in turmoil. My youngest was a drug addict. He was a pot head. He was just 16. I’m sure you are wondering how could this happen? Me too. In a way I watched it happen in front of my eyes. I didn’t know how to stop it.
At times I pretended it wasn’t happening. It was hell. For 18 months I was in a constant state of worry. He would sneak out after we went to bed. He would go out after dinner and not come back for a few hours. Sometimes he just didn’t come home. For eighteen months I never went to bed feeling relaxed. There was always a nagging worry about what I might wake up to.
Why didn’t I stop him? How did it get to this? He was 14, 15, 16 – I should have known where he was, what he was doing. I ask myself these same questions over and over. Even now that things are different I still try and work out where I went wrong. Why didn’t I have the power to stop this? I am slowly coming the the conclusion that it had to happen this way. Sometimes bad things have to happen to make the good things more precious.
I watched my son fade away to become someone I didn’t know. Someone I was scared for. Someone I desperately wanted back.
He watched me slowly fall apart. He watched me spiral into a place I never wanted to go back to. We fought. We cried. We talked. We loved. Through it all we always loved. I was always there for him. That’s what a mother does. That’s what a mother has to do.
One day early in May I really truly fell apart. It was all too much. In a moment of anger I told him I just wanted to die. I told him this was all too hard and I wanted to smash my head on the driveway until I was dead. I also told him he was the reason I felt this way. It is still hard to think about that day. I’ve never seen my son more hurt than on that day.
I can’t really remember too much over the next few weeks, I was in a melt down to a nervous breakdown. A place I didn’t want to go. I increased my anxiety medication and managed to keep off the edge. I was just functioning. I know we were looking at pulling him out of school because there was no point. School was becoming a vicious circle which, in a way, was pushing him into the life he had chosen. I know we were talking about options. I know I was fading.
Not long after this he came to me and said “Mum you are right, I have got a problem. I am addicted to weed and I need to do something now.” You have no idea how proud I was of him at that moment. That was a huge admission. We discussed options and he wanted to think about what he wanted to do.
A week or so later I was driving home from somewhere in the car with my boy. I looked at him and said “You really have to do something. This can’t go on.” He looked at me and said “Mum, I know. I feel like I am in between two roads – one is the road for school and the other is the road to work and doing something I want to do. At the moment I’m stuck on the grass in the middle. Hah! You won’t find this funny Mum, but do you get it? I’m stuck on the grass.” Funnily enough I did get the irony in that comment and I did find it funny. It was also deeply profound. It was the moment I knew my boy was thinking about coming back. It was also the moment that things began to turn around for us.
We enrolled him in the local Muay Thai gym to do a personal training course. He was now the responsibility of a big tattooed ex World Champion Muay Thai fighter who we will call J (because that is the letter his name starts with). He wanted to be there. He was scared of J, really scared. He wanted to be scared. He wanted to be accountable to this scary man. He told me he needed this. He wanted this.
He started to get fit. He put on muscle. The paleness of his skin disappeared. He looked healthy again. He started eating again. He started talking to us again. He came back. He was loving again. He called me mummy again. He hugged and kissed me again.
He had been doing this for four weeks. Starting at 9.00 am and working till 8.30 at night. Long hours that left him no time to meet the “people” he used to associate with. This is how he wanted it to be. Driving him home one night I asked him if he missed school. His answer was “I miss certain things about school and I don’t miss others. The things I miss the most are the things that are bad for me. Wagging and going down to the creek to smoke bud. I don’t miss the school work, the teachers and most of the people there.” He then said, and this made my heart sing “What I don’t miss the most is the constant guilty feeling I used to have. I used to feel guilty that I was wagging school because you would be disappointed. I used to feel guilty for lying to you. I used to feel guilty about smoking bud because I knew how much you would be upset by it. I love not having that guilty feeling. I don’t do anything now that I feel guilty about.” It was at this moment that I knew my boy was truly a good person. I was so proud of him. I was overwhelmed with love for him.
It has now been three and a half months and I cannot describe how different I feel. How different things are. It is not until now that I realise how scared I was every night going to bed. In the back of my mind I was convinced I would wake to find he was either gone or dead somewhere. I am good at partitioning things off in my mind. It allows me to cope day to day. It does take its toll however.
I am still cautious. I still know that if the things he loves now were taken from him, he would slide back to that world. At the moment the exercise is giving him the “feel good” feeling he loves. He told me when he was 12 that he had an addictive personality. He was so right. He is so wise.
I look back over the past two years trying to work out what I could have done differently to prevent this. I always come to the same conclusion that I wouldn’t have done anything differently. This was going to happen and it was how I handled the happening that would determine the outcome.
Two nights ago he asked me to lie on his bed with him before I went to bed. He put his arms around my neck and said “I love you mummy”. I told him I loved him too and that I’d really missed him. He said “I really missed you too mum, I really did”.
I have my baby back. I do not take this for granted.
Note: There were so many awful things that happened over the last 2 years, but I really wanted this post to focus on the positives and the realisations my son came to about changing things. He reads my blog and I want him to know how proud I am of him.